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Netflix Renews '13 Reasons Why' Even as National Suicide Rate Spikes

06-07-2018

Netflix has renewed the controversial teen drama 13 Reasons Why for a third season even as a new government report reveals that suicide is on the rise in almost all 50 states. 

It's been the topic of criticism for airing a graphic suicide scene in season one and graphically handling other issues including sexual abuse and violence.

Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, has replied to the criticism by saying, "Nobody has to watch it."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates increased significantly by 25% across the U.S. between 1999 and 2016, making it one of the leading causes of death.

Surprisingly, more than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. 

"Suicide is more than a mental health issue," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a media briefing."We don't think we can just leave this to the mental health system to manage."

The CDC suggests suicide prevention efforts must target underlying life stresses like job losses, divorces, or drug use to truly be effective.

Media critic Dr. Ted Baehr with Movieguide told CBN News one way to help is for shows like 13 Reasons Why to be careful about how they portray suicide on screen.

The Netflix drama sparked outrage among mental health experts who said the show's graphic depiction of suicide and rape could actually drive some people to take their own lives.

 Baehr said last year that suicide has increased for some groups since the show first came out.

"We understand suicides occur, but by focusing on suicide, those people who are susceptible are more likely to copy it, and the susceptibility doesn't go away," Baehr said.

He adds that seven percent actually want to copy the violence, and others want to see more of it, while some are becoming desensitized to it.

Therapist and author Linda Mintle says now is the time for the Church to step up and help those who are considering ending their life.

"While everyone continues to debate the pros and cons of 13 Reasons Why, there are teens triggered by watching it, those who have given up hope and see no future, and those who will be traumatized by what they see with no one to help them process it. And the help most people get will include everything but faith, unless people of faith start reaching out and truly allowing the Church to become a refuge for the suicidal and brokenhearted," she explained.

Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, agrees and says believers need to learn about mental health problems, especially suicide.

“I think the most important thing the Church can do is educate herself,” he told CBN News. “Christians need to not turn a blind eye.”

Clinton explained that some Christians are afraid to talk about suicide because they think it could drive someone to actually take their life. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, he said.

“If you talk about it you actually are speaking words of life...I’ve learned that people who are the end of their rope -- it isn’t that they hate life. They hate life the way it is. They don’t think there is a way out and that life would be better without them,” Clinton continued.

He also says friends and relatives who suspect their loved one is planning to commit suicide need to call emergency services immediately.  

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